Larkspur owner Ty Issa used to shake his head at another Lebanese restaurateur in Wichita who seemed to keep opening new restaurants.
“One restaurant is enough to run,” he said.
Now, though, he and his brothers, Ali and Mike, have an empire to run with Larkspur, YaYa’s Euro Bistro, the Hereford House, Heat Cigar & Hookah Lounge, and a couple of IHOPs along with catering and banquets.
Issa says they had planned only to be investors in YaYa’s, but a difference in management styles led them to buy and operate the business.
“It was not intended to be that way.”
Issa temporarily devoted his time to YaYa’s but has backed off some recently and is spending more time at Larkspur again.
Q. How do you all handle so many restaurants?
A. Ali takes care of the IHOPs, so we don’t have to worry. … Mike takes care of Hereford House. … I’m at Larkspur and YaYa’s.
Q. What’s it like having to keep up with both?
A. It just kind of makes the day go by fast. … My typical day is usually where I’m needed based on the first phone call that I get.
Q. How are the restaurants doing?
A. They’re good. We have an increase in sales definitely at IHOP. … An increase in sales at Hereford House. Then YaYa’s we didn’t have a full year to compare.
Downtown it’s amazing. … The revenue has been the same for the last 10 years. Any growth is through the outside catering and banquets.
Q. What keeps you up at night?
A. Where do you start? My little daughter … she does. Businesswise, any person who owns a business these days stays up at night thinking … about his business. You need to be ready mentally, physically.
We’re not lifting 50-pound sack flours, but you know, it’s just standing, walking around all day.
Q. What’s one thing few people know about you?
A. I eat lunch when I’m standing. … I catch myself back in the kitchen anywhere I am, and by 11 o’clock – because I usually don’t eat breakfast – find myself eating lunch while I’m standing.
You would think some guy with a restaurant would sit down and have two people waiting on him. It’s funny, but it’s true.